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Hedgehog FAQ [5/7] - Care and Understanding
Section - <8.6> Vaccinations, etc.

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [5/7] - Care and Understanding
Previous Document: <8.5> Do I need to spay/neuter my pet?
Next Document: <9.1> Various hedgehog health issues
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Although this could fit into the previous section, I felt it deserved a
section of its own.  After taking my herd of cats in for their annual shots,
one year, I found myself wondering about what shots, if any, a hedgehog
should have.  Primarily, the biggest worry in North America is likely rabies,
but there are other potential fungal/bacterial/viral infections as well.

After talking with my (non-hedgehog oriented) vet, I took my questions to the
appropriate source (thanks Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM).  It turns out the
answer is quite simple, yet complicated (don't you just love it when answers
are like that?).

As a general rule, for indoor hedgehogs that are not exposed to the dangers
of outdoors, there is no need to worry.  What complicates this is that local
authorities may not see it that way, and especially in areas where diseases
such as rabies exist, and they might be VERY insistent on vaccination -- even
though no vaccine has been approved for hedgehogs yet.  So, you don't need to
vaccinate your hedgehog, unless otherwise required -- clear as mud, right?

Here are some words of wisdom from Cathy to help clear things up a bit, and
to try and cover the problem areas of what to do when you DO need to
vaccinate a hedgehog, or get treatment otherwise.  Remember, this is
primarily her professional opinion, and not a set of absolute truths.

    At present, there are no vaccinations for pet hedgehogs.  They are 
    not susceptible to dog/cat diseases, or as far as I know, really any 
    of the major agricultural/livestock disease problems (well in North 
    America anyway - we don't vax our livestock for Foot & Mouth, which 
    hedgies can get, but North America is FM free).  Theoretically, they 
    can get sick with many of the bacterial diseases of livestock, but the 
    chances of them being exposed as indoor housepets is just about nil, 
    unless you take them outside and let them mingle with pigs, chickens, 
    cows, horses in breeding/dirty environments and let them feed on dung 
    (I think they would risk getting stepped on first).   

    The only exception to this might be if you were housing your hedgies 
    outdoors in caging part of the year and rabies was a threat in your 
    area - then I might recommend vaccinating with a killed rabies vax 
    (Imrab) as a precaution, like we do for pet bunnies housed outdoors 
    in rabies endemic areas.  Realize that:

        1. the vax is not approved for that species, no efficacy trials 
           have been done 

        2. since it is not a recognized vax and is a non-domestic species, 
           the FDA or Public Health Service/Dept/CDC (or Canada's 
           equivalent) will not recognize the animal as being vaccinated 
           so if the hedgie bites anyone, the animal will just be 
           euthanized and tested. NO ifs, ands, or buts.... 

    So the best all round precaution is not to let others handle your 
    hedgie lest he bite someone, and that someone gets his/her physician, 
    public health dept, etc. involved. 

    The actual risk from rabies in an indoor pet hedgie is, in my 
    opinion, non-existent, but public health people have regulations and 
    hedgies fall into the blanket category of non-domestics so all rules 

Another set of suggestions Cathy had was for sources for your veterinarian:

    Your veterinarian needs to have the most current published vet lit 
    on hedgehogs [the information below is current as of 1996 - ed.]:

        Journal of Small Exotic Animal Medicine: Vol 2, No 1: Husbandry and 
        medicine of African Hedgehogs by Anthony J. Smith DVM   reprints - 
        contact JSEAM, back issues PO Box 618686    issue out of print, but 
        article itself avail for $5.00

        J of Small Exotic Animal Med: Vol 3 No. 1 pps 12-15  Neonatology of 
        the hedgehog (Atlerix albiventrix) by Anthony J. Smith, DVM 
        order above through JSEAM

        Isenbugel, E. Baumgartner, RA 1993: Diseases of the Hedgehog. In: 
        Zoo and Wild Animal Med, Current Therapy III, WB Saunders, Phila PA  
        Chapter starting page 294

        Hoefer, HL 1994. Hedgehogs. In: Quesenberry KE, HIllyer EV (eds). 
        The Vet Clin of No Amer, Sm Anim Pract, Exotic Pet Med II, Vol 24, 
        No 1, WB Saunders, Phila PA, Pp113-120.

    Please pass the list of references to your veterinarian as sooner 
    or later he/she will need them.  (Murphy's law says that if you do, 
    [your hedgehog] won't).

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9. *** Problems to watch for and related information ***

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [5/7] - Care and Understanding
Previous Document: <8.5> Do I need to spay/neuter my pet?
Next Document: <9.1> Various hedgehog health issues

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